There's something very big here.If you look at the repercussions, this stats program does for police what the Leave No Child Behind program for schools does to teachers-- encourages them to shape the data. In this case, it may be putting us all at risk by fudging crime stats.
A new survey of over 100 retired NYPD captains and senior officers found that they believed that statistics were manipulated to portray lower crime rates for the compstat program that calculates crime rates..
The survey suggests that police have distorted crime reporting, dropping value of stolen goods so the theft is categorized as misdemeanor instead of felony. They drop categorization of crimes from felony to misdemeanor if suspects can't be found.
One element of the compsat program is the theory that aggressive arrests for the smallest crimes, with a minimum of 24 hours spent in jail, lead to discouraging of repeat offenses.
Compsat, originally adopted by Rudy Giuliani's first police chief, William J. Bratton, is now in use by hundreds of police departments all over the US and the world, including LA, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Houston, Baltimore and Vancouver. Many former NYPD officers now operate as consultants to those cities, helping them run the compsat program.
The survey raises the question as to whether the use of this system literally encourages police and district attorneys to manipulate crime reporting.
The NY Times, in an article title, Retired
Officers Raise Questions on Crime Data, reported,
In interviews with the criminologists, other retired senior officers cited examples of what the researchers believe was a periodic practice among some precinct commanders and supervisors: checking eBay, other Web sites, catalogs or other sources to find prices for items that had been reported stolen that were lower than the value provided by the crime victim. They would then use the lower values to reduce reported grand larcenies -- felony thefts valued at more than $1,000, which are recorded as index crimes under CompStat -- to misdemeanors, which are not, the researchers said.
Others also said that precinct commanders or aides they dispatched sometimes went to crime scenes to persuade victims not to file complaints or to urge them to change their accounts in ways that could result in the downgrading of offenses to lesser crimes, the researchers said.
"Those people in the CompStat era felt enormous pressure to downgrade
index crime, which determines the crime rate, and at the same time they
felt less pressure to maintain the integrity of the crime statistics,"
said John A. Eterno, one of the researchers and a retired New York City
And an article in the NY Post, titled, NYPD stats were captain cooked reports:
But a growing chorus of complaints -- including those from Post interviews with dozens of officers and a new survey of retired captains -- allege that the pressure of CompStat leads precinct bosses to downgrade major crimes to minor offenses.
The evidence includes:
* A new survey of 491 retired captains that found that respondents who worked in the CompStat era felt greater pressure from management to doctor major crimes.
* The NYPD Staten Island Evidence Collection Team's fingerprinting of burglary scenes but not entering its findings if cops did not issue the victims a police report. The burglaries would then not appear on CompStat.
* Sergeants' different attitude during roll call once CompStat began. Before, they would instruct officers to report all crimes. When CompStat came aboard, that speech disappeared.
* Officers who purposely made it difficult for victims to file complaints. Cops responding to burglaries would ask for serial numbers and receipts for lost items and not file their reports until those had been produced.